BY ZOE COHEN
SOUL singer Danny Toeman knew from a young age that he was destined to perform.
The London-based artist has been making a name for himself on the live circuit in his hometown, and will be performing as part of Bluesfest at the Royal Albert Hall next week, alongside the release of his first EP, The Way It Seems.
"I have always been a musician, and been interested in music since the age of three," Danny told me.
"My first experience was an amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof.
"Growing up I had complete access to my parents' vinyl collection. I was brought up on soul music, some of my influences being James Brown, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye."
Danny mentioned exploring different synagogues with his family growing up.
"We were mainly United Synagogue, but my family has always considered Judaism as being cultural," he said.
"We are family orientated and, like most Jews, enjoy our food.
"I always loved the communal singing in shul. My mum always jokes that for my barmitzvah I should have been facing the congregation, not the ark."
He describes five-track CD The Way It Seems as having a feel-good vintage vibe.
"It has an influence from the past, but I am looking to keep the legacy alive," Danny said.
"Many people appreciate soul music, as it has always existed. It has a loyal fan base in Britain because of its authentic feel."
One of his favourite tracks on the CD is That Thinking Feeling, which he described as having an up-tempo groove.
"The lyrics take you in a different direction to the music," he said. "For anyone having a bad day, this will lift you up. It is just what everyone needs to hear."
He added: "Many artists incorporate soul into their music. Amy Winehouse had an incredible soul sound and tone to her voice and was well loved for it.
"Sam Smith also has a retro-soul vibe. I prefer more American soul music. Janelle Monae's music is great. She is doing everything right.
"Soul is not a typical mainstream sound, but is coming from a place of sincerity."
Danny performed many gigs while reading music at Leeds University.
He said: "Being in Leeds helped me find my musical direction. I loved the northern soul scene there.
"I performed at the Hi-Fi Club and The Cockpit, and I enjoyed gigging at the Brudenell Social Club.
"I want people who come to my shows to enjoy the music and relate to it.
"If they have had a miserable day at work, I want them to feel uplifted from one of my shows, and forget about any issues they have had that day."
Danny explained that he is in his own mind space on stage.
He said: "As soon as I hit the stage, all my nerves disappear and the focus goes on the music.
"I am completely in my own mind. The thrill on that stage is indescribable."
Of performing at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday, Danny said: "The thought is daunting. The biggest venue I have played previously is Birmingham Town Hall.
"This is rather different, but the fact I am able to play here is amazing. I am very grateful for my fans."
Danny discussed how social media is crucial for staying in touch with audiences and for promotion.
He said: "I have stopped social media in my personal life as it is not a way to be happy. Though as an artist, it is great to keep in touch with fans. It is the reality of the industry.
With the music industry becoming more competitive, Danny added that one of the main things to focus on is being organised.
"You have to be smart in this industry," he explained. "Be organised as it is not always reliable.
"Don't overdo anything, focus on your niche market and be brave.
"As Woody Allen said '70 per cent of success in life is showing up'. Don't hope for everything to fall into your lap, go out there yourself."
Moving to New York City is on the cards one day for Danny.
"I have always loved NYC," he said. "They say next year in Jerusalem - I say next year in New York."
He also has an ambition to start his own record label to find artists who know how to write in the 21st century.
But for now, he is focused on his own music.
"I want to create and reach an audience that enjoys hearing my music," Danny added.
http://dannytoeman.com or follow him on Twitter @dannytoeman